Hello Friend, and welcome back!
If you have been following my “From Shitty-ness to Well-ness” series on healing from trauma, I have to apologize to you! I had intended to post the final part of the “Rational Self-Analysis” section already, like, months ago.
But wouldn’t you know, the strangest thing happened. As odd as it feels to say this, and as crazy as the trip has been, I healed.
I don’t mean “I’ve had an epiphany”, or “I had some deep shit happen in my ayahuasca experience”, or “I’ve had a therapy breakthrough”, or anything like that. I have indeed had those experiences before, and as important as they were and as grateful as I am for them, this was different. Qualitatively, profoundly different.
It feels super-weird to be taking ownership over this and stating it like a fact. It brings up this oh-so-familiar, self-critical feeling – a mixture of embarrassment, shame, and wanting to erase everything I’ve ever done and never speak to anyone again, ever.
It feels like, by sharing something positive about myself, I am being arrogant, or grandstanding, or narcissistic or something like that. Isn’t that crazy? That just saying “Hey! Something good happened!”, makes a person feel bad about themselves? But that IS the legacy of child abuse; it plants some really toxic seeds in a person, and unless they are dealt with early, what germinates from them will suck positivity, self-love, self-compassion, healthy self-pride, right out of your life, leaving you empty and vulnerable to whatever nasty shit comes along that offers you even momentary reprieve. Eventually, the toxicity becomes your life, and an absolutely central part of this process, is you, disowning your strengths.
Do you struggle with this feeling, like you “can’t” share positive things about yourself? Do you know where it comes from? Because that’s a pretty good place to start if you want to get through it, and eventually be free from it.
It took me a long time, many years, a lot of therapy, meditation, and learning (I have, after all, studied Psychology & ‘wellness’ for 30 years now…), to unpack my childhood. I will likely blog about this in the next while, because I am no longer ashamed of things that unhealthy people chose for my life, and I am SO over feeling an obligation to protect them. But when I do share my full story, I’m going to do it right. I think sharing details of things like that is important, because whatever YOU have suffered through in life, someone else is suffering through it right now. For now, I’ll just say that for me, a key, large part of childhood was systematically humiliating. Much of the rest was ‘just’ neglectful.
And yes, there were great parts too, and loving people, thank god. But as is generally the case with child development, it doesn’t take a lot of “negative” to undo a lot of “positive”.
The net result was that I internalized, “deep down inside”, not only the BELIEF, but the FEELING, the undeniable embodied ‘KNOWING’ that I was a fucking disgrace of a human being. Carrying that around inside from middle school onwards, takes a toll.
(Note: I put the word ‘knowing’ in single-quotes to illustrate that it’s not actually real knowledge; it’s actually a BELIEF, but simply saying belief would be misleading, suggesting it’s merely a simple cognitive error. By emphasizing “embodied ‘KNOWING'”, I am hoping to convey that when something is deeply embodied, it is near-impossible to retain the perspective that it is merely BELIEF; instead, it feels like genuine knowledge, like Truth.)
The thing about growing up super-unhealthy, is that, well, time keeps marching on. Life is like a big game of hide&seek — “Ready or not, here I come!”
So you “adapt”, as best you can. Sometimes, you might even look like you’ve got your shit together.
But those unhealed, unintegrated parts sabotage your progress and success, undermine your strengths, prevent opportunities from blossoming, destroy relationships, and one way or the other ensure that for every step forward, you take at least two steps back.
So in the spirit of recognizing this long struggle, I’d like to give myself some damn credit here.
I kept going.
I kept my heart open.
I kept learning. I always, always kept learning.
I kept seeking wisdom.
I kept myself open to beauty.
Even when suicidal, which was a frequent companion through my life, there was always “something” in my heart that just…couldn’t…give up on Life. Life is a gift; and I thank the Goddess that enough loving seeds were planted by wonderful people that I DID have this inner resolve to keep living.
So I am still here.
And eventually, all that learning, struggling, seeking, and simply hanging on, led to — Now.
And Now! Oh sweet divinity, NOW???!!!??? Now I ***actually*** feel joy! I’m not sure I even knew what “joy” was before. Excitement, passion, enthusiasm, happiness-in-moments, gratitude, even awe. But joy? This is new. It is incredible to discover that THIS is available to us, like an inner Sun, an infinite soul-energy source; all we need to do is plug ourselves into it.
Joy is an inner experience. It does not require external circumstances to align in order for it to blossom within. It’s just there. It’s our ancestral inheritance, an inherent part of being human (a point we’ll return to in the next couple of posts). All it requires to burst out of you, is for you to allow that to happen.
For example, not a single external “problem” in my life or the world has been fixed. All the shit, all the problems, all the challenges, are all still there, just like before. And yet, everything is different.
Even amidst stress and struggle and challenge, there can be shining, unfathomable joy.